Earlier this month, many popular Asian entertainment stars and industry leaders met in commemoration of Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM). They discussed expanding platforms and opportunities in Hollywood for Asian Americans.

Taking place at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center Auditorium in Washington D.C. earlier this month, the panel known as "Hollywood, Networks & Beyond" featured Daniel Dae Kim of "Hawaii Five-O," Arden Cho of "Teen Wolf," Sang Cho, president of Mnet America, and John C. Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice. Moderated by Traci G. Lee, digital editor and manager for NBC Asian America, the panel talked about the relative success Asian Americans have seen on major American television networks.

Asian-American presence in Hollywood

For most Asian Americans, finding relative success in the American entertainment industry often consists of being cast in supporting roles, or, by some blessing, a secondary lead role. However, we've seen Asian Americans not just land main roles, but shows centered on Asian Americans themselves. "Dr. Ken" and "Fresh Off the Boat" are prime examples of shows that put such culture and heritage front and center. Sometimes, they even poke fun at the stereotypes set by American entertainment in general, especially Hollywood.

International success of foreign Asian entertainment partially responsible for improvements

In many ways, we have to thank the phenomenal success of foreign Asian entertainment, especially out of South Korea, for the American entertainment industry suddenly taking Asian-American actors, singers, and leaders seriously.

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For decades, they were stereotyped into tropes and roles typical of what was perceived to be either Chinese or Japanese. Roles and opportunities were limited and what was available was minute in terms of exposure. As a result, many Asian-Americans go back to their country of origin and make a name for themselves there.

Take Korean entertainment for example. K-dramas and K-pop are extremely popular internationally. Some of today's idols and actors are either people of full or partial Korean ethnicity living outside of South Korea or people from other East Asian countries. Sunny and Tiffany of Girls' Generation, Jessica Jung (formerly of Girls' Generation too), Wendy of Red Velvet, and Ailee are examples of the former. Nichkhun of 2PM, Henry Lau of Super Junior M, Amber of f(x), Fei and Jia of Miss A, Jackson Wang, BamBam, and Mark Tuan of Got7, Lay of EXO, and Momo, Sana, Mina, and Tzuyu of Twice are examples of the latter.

Despite the improvements, there are still many obstacles Asian-Americans face.

With usually only one token person of color in most shows and movies, it is far from being diverse. As Arden Cho said during the panel, people of color are more than an accent piece. She expressed how she wants Asians to represents three-dimensional characters with major plot lines, romances, etc., instead of fighting for visibility in a stereotypical role.